A Storyteller’s Guide to the Language of Arab Folktales

(English spellings vary)

afreet: A cunning demon or spirit from the djinn world

Allah: The name of the one God

bazaar: Marketplace

cadi (qadi): Judge of an Islamic court of justice

caliph: A spiritual and religious leader, a successor of Muhammed

dervish: An ascetic Muslim monk; a member of an order noted for devotional exercises involving bodily movements

djinn, jinn, genie: Powerful and magical invisible beings created by God out of smokeless fire. They can use their power for good or evil. Djinns live in a parallel world to "ins," or mortals, and often appear to ins in disguise.

ghoul, She-ghoul: A desert monster that devours human flesh. Often chants a warning, like Jack’s giant’s "fe fi fo fum."

hakawadi: A coffeehouse storyteller

hammam: A public bath

imam: A prayer leader and elder of a mosque

hodja, djuha (and other spellings): a provincial imam; a country preacher

khan: An inn with a courtyard for animals so that caravans can be accommodated; a caravanserai

mullah: A title of respect for one learned in the sacred law

saluki: Breed of sporting dog, tall and slender with a smooth, silky coat; the "dog" of the bible

scimitar: A short curved saber with its edge on the convex side of the blade

sheikh: A venerable patriarch; may be used to indicate family tribal status or religious learning

sultan: An absolute ruler; a civil title

vizier, wazir: Minister or chief courtier; a civil office, not a religious one

wadi: Riverbed or ravine

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